Goaltender Braden Holtby agreed to a two-year, $3.7 million contract extension with the Capitals, the team announced Monday.
Holtby, 23, emerged on the scene last spring as he backstopped Washington through two rounds of the playoffs, and after a rough start to this compressed schedule, the Saskatchewan native is finding a rhythm in his first full NHL season. Holtby, who was set to become a restricted-free agent this offseason, said he’s happy to have the contract taken care of.
“It’s nice to have it out of the way,” Holtby said. “You didn’t really want it to come down to a stressful summer, so [agent David Kaye] got that out of the way and just focus on hockey now, and it just feels good to have it done and now we can move forward.”
Holtby is 5-6-0 with a .896 save percentage and 3.37 goals-against average this year. But over the past two weeks, as he’s made six consecutive starts, Holtby has stopped 174 of the 188 shots he’s faced for a .925 save percentage and 2.35 goals-against average.
He’s “a little more refined now, and that’s usually what happens with goalies when they get some experience. He’s found his game again,” General Manager George McPhee said when asked about Holtby’s improvement this season. “He was off his game earlier in the year, and that may happen going from the American League [to] here and trying to adjust to a better league. So we like the way he’s playing and what he can bring to the club obviously in the next few years.”
Holtby is slated to earn $1.7 million in 2013-14 and $2 million in 2014-15 under the new contract, and his salary cap hit will clock in at $1.85 million. This season, in the final year of his entry-level deal, Holtby will earn a prorated $600,000 salary and carries a salary cap hit of $637,777.
McPhee said that the Capitals began negotiations on an extension with Holtby over the summer only to see the process delayed by the lockout. He wanted to get the young goaltender signed before he became a restricted free agent, though, to check one thing off the offeseason to-do list.
“We all believe there’s a lot of upside there,” McPhee said. “A good young goalie, and the deal made sense to do now.”